And, so, we had the 2009 San Francisco Bay Area region qualifier weekend for the North American Championships this past weekend. Saturday morning’s tournament had 12 people – stupid 4 player tables with all of their 4 playerness.
As mentioned in part 3 of my series on a deck built around Sins of the Cauchemar, we had a playday yesterday. Four players, four games. It was a grind, not so much because of the four games but because of the four player tables. I’m much more comfortable with the five player dynamic and feel rushed into acting with four. Borrowed decks were borrowed from me, btw.
Cauchemar deck -> borrowed 4CL Path of Typhon deck -> anarch Conrad Adoula deck -> Madness Network SB, Malk 4/5
Early on, I was able to contain my predator but at the cost of having virtually no impact on my prey. My grand tried rushing both directions and didn’t make a lot of progress, getting Coma-ed on one side and outmaneuvered on the other. He could never afford a third minion. I felt compelled to bleed a few times to get the edge and, to cycle, used Governs, so my prey did take some pool damage. With my predator low on pool from Dragonbound and bringing out lots of vampires and my prey being low due to having no particular pool defense, the game was ready to collapse. My prey lunged with bleeds followed by Enticement, but I Eagle Sight blocked the Enticement, and my prey was ousted by Dragonbound. My predator considered backousting as he expected to get ousted by Dragonbound, but I convinced him to go forward and hope that his opponents would mess each other up. I made a mistake which likely cost me the sweep, but I took out the Conrad deck in the endgame anyway.
borrowed 4CL Gargoyles -> !Toreador wall -> Ani/Pro bleed -> Malk deck from above
I put out Beatrice Trembley on turn one and she spent the rest of the game bleeding for 2 with monsters having -1 intercept. I quickly amassed a solid army of Beatrice, Carlton Van Wyk, and Gangrel. I was a little worried about my predator as he did hardly anything and wasn’t being threatened. Gargoyles tried to survive Malks. Might have happened if I were more aggressive, but I held back a bit to let my prey soften up other players and those other players kept getting ousted the turn before I was going to make my move. My prey and I split 2, 2.
!Tor 4CL toolbox -> borrowed 4CL group 4/5 Nos w/ Dominate -> Conrad deck from above -> borrowed 4CL new Inner Circle
I need to retool my !Tor deck as it just has no ousting power whatsoever. Even with three Palla Grande, I just get blocked, bounced, or reduced bleeding and don’t do any damage. My prey complained about the excessive toolboxiness of his deck. My predator didn’t realize the importance of having certain disciplines so brought out Lutz and Joseph rather than Hardestadt and only one of those two. The Conrad deck beat people up, got his prey with Fame, then got ousted as I couldn’t push through 2 pool damage to my prey who had brought out two 10 caps, a 9 cap, and a 6 cap. The game timed out with my prey getting 1.5, the Conrad player getting 1, and me getting .5.
Cloak the Unaligned -> borrowed Tzimisce toolbox Ashur Tablets -> Malk deck from above -> Settite bleed
I thought we would call it after game 3, but we decided to play one more game under the idea that we would play fast decks. I have a joke deck built that is nothing if not fast one way or the other. As expected, my Cloak the Unaligned deck couldn’t handle a fierce predator and I died quickly. The wacky thing about the game was that my prey won.
Why? Because the deck was missing some important cards for how it’s supposed to work, for one thing. For another, he only brought out two vampires all game and still managed to do enough pool damage to take players out. A lot of bounce helped him but also the dynamic of the game was in his favor. Possibly, missing those cards, he was able to draw into the cards he needed for that particular game.
That’s the thing about this game – on forums, even in person, players obsess over how they build their decks when the fact of the matter is that how a deck is built just isn’t that important to winning. In other CCGs, it’s often one of the top determinants to success. But, as I’ve been preaching for more than five years, I just don’t see it being that important. Managing a table is huge. Seating can be huge. Timing, lunging correctly, and stopping lunges are huge.
But, deck construction? Too many factors, too much politics to make deck construction a primary determinant of success. A bad build might be optimal for a particular tournament. A strong build may bring too much table hate. Being toolboxy might be great one day and horrible the next. And, sometimes, you just randomly get screwed by bad play on your opponents’ parts or get thrown games or tournaments you shouldn’t win.
I do believe decks for this game need to meet a minimum threshold of viability. I’ve played decks in tournaments that didn’t and even apologized for one of them.
Speaking of tournaments, regional qualifier weekend next weekend and I need to figure out what decks I’m going to play in the three tournaments. Look for a report next week.
As expected, I ended up having a V:TES playday yesterday. Four games, but I only played the Cauchemar deck once as I had plenty of other decks to try out with this group.
I got out Carna, Goratrix, and eventually Ladislas, which is fine for this deck. In a more competitive environment, being able to more easily bring out four or even five vampires would be important and I don’t see this build doing that.
While I ended up winning the game and had a reasonable shot at sweeping, the deck just didn’t flow very well. Whether that was because of the draw or because of the matchups or because it isn’t more flexible, I’m not entirely sure, but if I were going to try to take this to a tournament (which I wouldn’t for reasons that have nothing to do with how good it is or could be), I would want to work on the masters and cut the number of Sins by two. I did play two Sins at superior and another at inferior, and it’s interesting how easily they can be cycled – a little extra value.
Ruins of Ceoris performed well. Why is this interesting? Because I don’t think much of the card. I see it as an okay toolup. Though, I’m used to !Trem decks that don’t go down the dull intercept combat path which need to spend actions doing things besides tooling up, so it could just be that this much more fighty deck made better use out of it. It was amusing to be the combat deck given my interests and reputation. It’s been ages since I played so many Thefts in one game.
Oddly, having enough ousting power wasn’t a problem, though I did get my first oust from my grand’s Dragonbound. Didn’t get to bring out Ponticulus.
I ran an extra Apportation and cut a Movement of the Mind as I could only find one V:TES version of MotM – I eschew Jyhad-backed cards these days, having forgotten that it hasn’t been reprinted. I would likely cut the Sport Bike for an intercept location. Rutor’s Hand would help with getting more actions.
In the end, though, I didn’t get the amusement factor out of the deck as I wasn’t playing with people who knew how unlikely it was to see Sins of the Cauchemar in a deck nor did I find the general play of the deck all that interesting as it was just an intercept combat deck with some toolup. Maybe I need to play more combo decks to really be doing something different.
Still, it’s worth one more go.
I was looking at my decks in V:TES’s tournament winning deck archive (TWDA, http://thelasombra.com/decks/twd.htm) to give examples in a discussion on card limits. This got me to thinking about what are the cards I really play most.
From the six decks I have in the TWDA, here are the top quantities:
- Honor the Elders, x27
- Blood Doll, x23
- Majesty, x20
- Cloak the Gathering, x17
- Effective Management, x15
- Kine Resources Contested & Telepathic Misdirection, x14
- Blessing of the Name, x13
- Minion Tap, x11
- Bewitching Oration, x10
The first thing to note is that this data is just not very good. Small sample size creates massive biases, which even the TWDA as a whole has an issue with, nevermind looking at only six decks played by one player mostly in one metagame. All of the Honor the Elders are in only one of the six decks. A different way to cut the data is to look at how many different decks a card shows up in to get a sense of breadth of use.
- Blood Doll, The Barrens, and Wake With Evening’s Freshness, five
- Effective Management, Majesty, and Storage Annex, four
This makes a lot more sense and still has some interesting features.
There are a fair number of cards that show up in three different decks. Some of the surprises include: how many votes appear in three decks, I suppose I’ve done reasonably well playing vote decks; Dreams of the Sphinx and Information Highway appearing in only three decks, these are among my favorite masters.
What’s really shocking, mindblowing in fact, is that Deflection only shows up in one deck, that Conditioning and Govern show up a total of zero times in my six TWDA decks. I did have two other decks that could have been in the TWDA and one of them did play a fair amount of Dominate, but I’m not sure that deck had any Governs either. Crazy! Again, small sample size mocks the data.
Yet, it is interesting how well I’ve done with voting and Presence given that I don’t think of myself as being all that interested in voting. And, the lack of more Dominate just screams out. And, what’s with all of the Storage Annexes? I don’t think the card is good based on math, not nearly as good as Dreams or Fragment of the Book of Nod, yet two thirds of these decks run it. There may be some subtle, non-mathematical benefit to it that makes it better for me than it should be.
One other thing about the data that pops out is that I do better than I think with comboish decks. The Blessing of the Name deck relied on a combo while the Honor the Elders deck played like a combo deck.
Taken together, these two features of the data suggest I should take more risks.